A proposal for more long-distance flights at Reagan National Airport (DCA) is catching the ire of some of Virginia’s Congressional representatives, who say it could undermine efforts to grow Dulles International Airport (IAD).
Proponents led by Capital Access Alliance argue that current restrictions at Reagan National — an airport owned by the federal government — are outdated and hurt the economy. They want to increase the number of flights that travel beyond 1,250 miles from the airport, allowing as many as 25 daily round trips.
According to the Alliance:
Since the late 1960s, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) has been the only airport subject to a federally imposed perimeter rule, which limits the number of flights that are allowed to take-off and land outside a 1,250-mile perimeter. However, the consumer, economic, technological and industry landscape has changed substantially in the last 60 years, and the rule’s original goals no longer apply to today’s air travel ecosystem in the nation’s capital.
The group released a study by Boston Consulting Group that argues more long-distance flights would boost all airlines equally, reduce ticket prices for passengers, and result in millions of dollars in economic growth.
But senators who represent Virginia and Maryland say that the proposal will undermine Dulles, just as more customers may utilize the airport due to the arrival of Metro last year.
In a joint statement issued last Wednesday (April 26), Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine said that past efforts to allow exceptions to the perimeter pool have “produced significant stress” on the airport.
“Those changes have also prevented Dulles, whose size allows for larger planes to land and take off, from realizing its full potential as the primary long-haul flight destination for the Washington metropolitan area,” the statement reads.
According to the letter, Reagan National is now seeing more travelers than Dulles, even though the international airport was designed for more capacity.
For over a decade, traffic at DCA has risen sharply, while IAD has declined or stagnated in the same measures. In 2010, total annual enplanements at IAD exceeded those at DCA by more than 5 million. At the end of 2019, before COVID-19 upended the national aviation industry, IAD outpaced DCA by less than a million passengers annually. Now, as we begin to emerge from the pandemic and Americans return to travel, this pattern has worsened. Today, IAD trails DCA by more than 1 million.
The senators go on to argue that loosening the slot and perimeter rules threatened the balance between the airports.
“As Congress prepares to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), we will strongly oppose any efforts to disrupt or undermine the balance between Dulles and National, an airport one-fourteenth the size of Dulles,” the statement said.
Warner wrote a similar letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation in March.
Congress is expected to take up the FAA’s reauthorization bill this fall.
In an unusual show of bipartisan unity, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin will attend a press conference tomorrow (Wednesday) with Democratic senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and other elected leaders to rally for a Northern Virginia FBI headquarters.
A release from Warner’s office said the elected leaders will hold a press conference in Springfield to lay out the case for bringing the proposed headquarters to Fairfax County.
According to the release:
The press conference comes as the FBI and the General Services Administration (GSA) work to finalize a location for the new headquarters after years of work on the project spanning multiple presidential administrations.
The press conference follows a letter from the Commonwealth’s congressional delegation and Gov. Youngkin, detailing the ways in which Springfield best meets the five selection criteria set forth by the GSA and FBI, which are: support for the FBI mission requirement; transportation access; site development flexibility; promoting sustainable siting and advancing equity; and cost.
The bidding war over the FBI headquarters is possibly the most intense skirmish between Virginia and Maryland since 1865. Virginia is hoping to bring the FBI to a 58-acre site in Springfield, while Maryland is hoping to draw the FBI to Landover or Greenbelt.
The lineup looks like Coachella for Fairfax County elected leadership, with representatives Gerry Connolly, Don Beyer and Abigail Spanberger joining Youngkin and the senators, along with Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, and representatives from other local organizations.
McKay previously accused Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) — multiple times — of unfairly trying to tip the scales in favor of the FBI purchasing a Maryland site currently owned by WMATA. Maryland, meanwhile, has argued that proximity to Quantico is being too heavily weighted in favor of Virginia.
The Board of Supervisors approved its own letter to the GSA and FBI last week advocating for the Springfield site, which currently a warehouse for the GSA right next to the agency’s headquarters.
The press conference is scheduled for 8:45 a.m. at Northern Virginia Community College (6699 Springfield Center Drive).
A cycle path to the Innovation Center Metro station is circling closer to construction.
Roughly $4 million in federal funding was secured for the project, which will include a cycle path from Sunrise Valley Drive to Innovation Metro Station, Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced yesterday.
Funds were designated in the fiscal year 2023 appropriations bill, a $1.7 trillion spending package that must be adopted by midnight tomorrow (Friday) to avoid a partial federal goverment shutdown.
The upgrades are part of the county’s Active Transportation Program, which covers non-motorized methods of travel and aims to reduce vehicle traffic.
The changes to the four-lane boulevard, which also has additional turning lanes at various intersections, would connect to existing bicycle and pedestrian paths, notably the Fairfax County Parkway Trail, FFXnow previously reported.
“This project will provide significantly improved access to several Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail Stations and high-density transit-oriented development near the Metrorail Stations and activity centers,” said a statement breaking down the funds designated for Northern Virginia.
Other projects also fit the bill in Fairfax County.
Among them is a neighborhood job and entrepreneurship research center for teens and young adults in the county’s community centers. The centers will offer teens and young adults career readiness skills, job training and leadership programs, according to the release. That project is expected to cost $2.1 million.
In Springfield, the Northern Virginia Community College’s Medical Education Campus will receive $2.2 million to grow its nursing program. Funds will also go towards buying computerized manikins and other technology to supplement clinic training for nursing, respiratory therapy and EMS students.
Other cyclist-related improvements include $1 million for bicycle and pedestrians upgrades near the Vienna Metrorail Station in Oakton. The project is targeted to the area near the station and Oakton High School.
A complete list of secured funds is available online.
Fairfax County has gotten a little help from the federal government for its efforts to increase the availability of affordable housing.
The county was awarded a total of $8.9 million in grants and other funds by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner announced on Friday (May 13).
The funding comes from three different programs:
- $5.9 million in Community Development Block Grants, which can be used for housing construction, homeowner assistance, infrastructure, economic development, and other community projects
- $2.5 million from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which supports partnerships with nonprofits to provide affordable housing and direct rental assistance to low-income individuals
- $515,135 from the Emergency Solutions Grant program, which funds emergency shelters, services for people experiencing homelessness, and homelessness prevention programs
The county typically receives approximately $8.5 million each year from those programs, according to the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay says federal funds “are critical” to helping the county achieve its affordable housing goals, which was recently doubled to 10,000 new units by 2034.
“I thank Senators Warner and Kaine for helping us to advance housing opportunities for veterans and their families, providing supportive housing for those with special needs, enabling older adults to age in place, and much more,” McKay said. “Fairfax County is working every single day to ensure that everyone here access to a safe, secure, and affordable home.”
With the block grant and HOME funds, the county says it has been able to create or preserve over 800 affordable housing units, along with 220 affordable rental units, in the past five years. Projects that have benefitted include Wesley Housing’s The Arden in Huntington, the new Lee District Community Center, and a planned acquisition of 12 condominiums by the nonprofit Pathway Recovery.
According to Housing and Community Development spokesperson Benjamin Boxer, the new funds will be allocated in accordance with the county’s Five-Year Consolidated Plan and the related One-Year Action Plan, which set housing goals and establish services for older adults, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, and households earning 30% or less of the area median income.
The newest One-Year Action Plan, which is currently under review and will take effect for fiscal year 2023 on July 1, calls for funding for 13 different projects, ranging from rental assistance vouchers to home repairs for seniors and people with disabilities in Falls Church and Herndon.
Overall, Virginia will receive $114.7 million from HUD.
“All Virginians deserve access to safe and affordable housing, but rents and home prices have skyrocketed across Virginia in recent years,” Kaine and Warner said in a joint statement. “We’re glad that this funding will go to supporting the construction of new affordable housing units and help Virginians access more housing options.”
(Updated at 9 a.m.) County Board Chair Tests Positive for Covid — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay announced last night (Monday) that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He reported experiencing “minor symptoms which are uncomfortable but manageable” and is currently working from home and quarantining. [Jeff McKay/Twitter]
Johnny Depp Fans Wait at Courthouse — “Fans who stood outside the main entrance of the Fairfax County Courthouse with the hopes of glimpsing actor Johnny Depp as he appeared for the first day of his defamation trial were disappointed. The ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ star skipped the crowds and entered the courthouse through another door.” [Patch]
Sen. Mark Warner Visits for Affordable Housing Talk — “Every community needs access to affordable housing. Glad to deliver funding to Fairfax County today to create up to 250 affordable housing units and talk to local leaders about how we can further support their initiatives at a federal level.” [Mark Warner/Twitter]
Trees Cut Down for Mount Vernon Bicycle Trail Project — “Construction to improve and link the Mount Vernon Bike Trail along the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway is in its early stages and to clear the way, a significant number of trees have been cut down along the road. According to the project team, there is no plan to replant additional trees when the project is completed, a county spokesperson said.” [The Connection]
Tysons Real Estate Leaders Explore Nats Sale — The Lerner family, which is behind the Tysons II development master plan, has hired an investment bank to explore potential investment partners for the Washington Nationals, The Washington Post reported. Mark Lerner, the baseball club’s managing principal owner, called the move “exploratory” with “no set timetable or expectation of a specific outcome.” [Patch]
County Unemployment Rate Declines — “Inflation may be eating away at their earnings, but a larger share of Fairfax County residents had jobs in February than a month before, according to new federal data…The county’s unemployment rate for the shortest month of the year stood at 2.5 percent, down from 2.9 percent a month before.” [Sun Gazette]
Local LGBTQ+ Advocates Worried About New Law — “Under a new law, Virginia school districts must notify parents whenever instructional materials include sexually explicit content and must provide parents alternative, non-explicit materials if requested…FCPS Pride said the bill ‘creates an adversarial relationship between teachers and parents or guardians.'” [The Washington Post]
Public Safety Workers Honored in Reston — “Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce officials on March 31 honored police, fire-and-rescue and Sheriff’s Office employees for their outstanding acts of public protection. More than 600 people attended the 44th annual Fairfax County Valor Awards, held at the Hyatt Regency Reston.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]
Herndon Plans Town-Wide Clean-Up — “The annual spring clean-up, an opportunity for residents to place large or bulky items curbside for pickup, takes place April 27-29. Pickup is on your trash day only.” [Town of Herndon]
It’s Tuesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 72 and low of 53. Sunrise at 6:37 am and sunset at 7:44 pm. [Weather.gov]
A federal budget plan passed by the U.S. House yesterday (Wednesday) would send more than $8.3 million to Fairfax County, Virginia’s senators report.
Designated H.R. 2471, the $1.5 trillion spending package funds the federal government for fiscal year 2022, which began on Oct. 1, 2021, and ends on Sept. 30. It also includes $13.6 billion in aid to support Ukraine during Russia’s invasion and releases funding for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed into law in November.
The House approved the package with two separate votes of 361 to 69 and 260 to 171 after removing a portion that would’ve provided $15.6 billion for COVID-19 response efforts, including vaccines and testing — measures that would’ve faced an uphill battle in the Senate, which will now take up the budget.
“We are pleased to see the House of Representatives vote to pass a full-year spending package, which will prevent a costly shutdown and provide key federal funding for some of Virginia’s top priorities,” Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner said in a joint statement.
According to the senators, the package contains more than $85 million in earmarks for Virginia, including the following allocations for Fairfax County, per Warner’s office:
- $2 million for the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board’s Merrifield Crisis Response Center, which provides mental health, substance use, and developmental disability services
- $1.7 million to develop Fair Ridge at West Ox, a affordable housing community that the nonprofit Cornerstones Housing has proposed building near Fair Oaks Mall
- $1.03 million to boost the county’s First Time Homebuyers Program, which helps low and moderate-income families purchase affordable housing
- $1 million to purchase equipment and expand Capital Bikeshare facilities for underserved areas
- $742,000 to support a diversion program for adults who have gone through the criminal justice system
- $400,000 to help the county launch a new skills development center that would assist minority and low-income residents disproportionately affected by the pandemic with job training and finding employment
- $1.5 million for the Residences at Government Center II, a planned affordable housing development with up to 275 units
According to Rep. Gerry Connolly’s office, the $2 million for the Merrifield Center would be used to redesign the facility with security enhancements and additional capacity to support an expanding array of services, including the county’s Diversion First efforts.
“This redesign is necessary due to significant programming changes since the opening of the building,” the release says.
The spending package also includes $1 million for the Fairfax County Health Department to develop a “Stable Families, Thriving Futures” program focused on “improving the immediate and long-term educational, employment, and health outcomes of pregnant and parenting teens and non-parenting young adults ages 15 to 25 in Fairfax County’s underserved communities of color.”
If the Senate adopts the budget as is, George Mason University will receive nearly $2 million to establish Virginia Climate Center in partnership with the county, Fairfax City, and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission.
Another $1.15 million has been allocated to GMU for a learning laboratory where students will design and implement projects aimed at improving social and population health:
The centerpiece will be the launch of a Summer Immersion Institute (SII) for 96 students. The SII curriculum will focus on building students’ capacity to address social health for communities and ensure access to care for marginalized communities in Fairfax County, especially for communities who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These projects reflect the shared priorities of local leaders, and I am greatly looking forward to seeing these dollars in action for the people of Northern Virginia,” Connolly said. “This funding will be put toward critical efforts to bolster Northern Virginia’s response to climate change, expand affordable housing initiatives, invest in workforce development and training, and more.”